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Fulham 3-0 West Brom Prem04 1213 Daily Telegraph

last updated Tuesday 18th September 2012, 9:16 AM
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Jonathan Liew at Daily Telegraph

Fulham (2) 3 West Brom (0) 0

Dimitar Berbatov clearly started this contest intent on making a point.

And by the time he raised both arms skywards, pointing two fingers into the air to celebrate his two goals, he certainly had done.

Having departed Manchester United acrimoniously after frequently being forced to sit on the substitutes' bench despite being the Premier League's top scorer, it was no surprise that he was celebrating success on his first start for Fulham as they ruined West Bromwich Albion's unbeaten start to the season.

Berbatov is the hero that the club have been pining for in the wake of losing key attackers Mousa Dembele and Clint Dempsey.

Here, he showed that he can be a worthy focal point in the final third.

His movement, his touch and his nonchalant swagger were all on show and he was rewarded with two goals - both assisted by the outstanding Alexander Kacaniklic - as Fulham eased to victory against an Albion side who will rue Peter Odemwingie's first-half red card for kicking out at Sascha Riether.

Fulham had just snatched the lead in a tight contest, so a sense of frustration in their ranks was understandable, but the ferocity of Odemwingie's reaction was still inexcusable.

Shortly afterwards, Berbatov added a second, before Steve Sidwell's late clincher.

Berbatov impressed throughout and, despite his infamous laid-back reputation, his work-rate was high - though Fulham manager Martin Jol did not feel the player had a point to prove.

"Whenever he played he was one of the top scorers," said the Dutchman.

"That performance was important because we lost our best players.

It was a different system."

The initial stalemate was ended in the 18th minutes, when Kacaniklic cut inside from the left, skilfully ran at the defence at pace on the way to the edge of the 18-yard box and squared to his right.

Berbatov, in space, trapped the ball then curled it beyond Ben Foster's grasp and into far corner.

The last thing that Albion needed at that stage was a loss of composure and focus - but Odemwingie's moment of stupidity followed after he kicked Riether once the defender dispossessed him.

Yet Steve Clarke, the West Brom manager, was sympathetic.

"We're all human," he said.

"Everybody has emotions.

He [Odemwingie] felt he should have had a had a free kick and the red mist came down.

We had started slowly."

They had started slowly but that incident meant that a tense contest swung in Fulham's favour.

The home crowd did not have to wait long for that second goal to arrive for their new striker and, again, he had Kacaniklic to thank.

The midfielder once more made a piercing run and was fouled by a flustered Billy Jones - who looked tired after being given the runaround - leading to a penalty.

Berbatov, looking typically casual, stroked in from the spot as Foster went the wrong way.

Albion showed the right attitude in the second period but the game already looked lost.

As the half wore on, there were a procession of Fulham chances with Foster doing well to keep out a series of efforts from the likes of Damien Duff, Hugo Rodallega and the still-menacing Berbatov.

He could do little though, in the closing stages, when a Rodallega header hit the bar and Steve Sidwell followed up to complete a comfortable win.

Berbatov would have liked a hat-trick but he will still go home a very happy man.

 Fulham (4-4-1-1): Schwarzer; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff (Smith 90), Baird, Sidwell, Kacaniklic (Kasami 84); Rodallega; Berbatov.
Subs: Stockdale (gk), Kelly, Karagounis, Briggs, Trotta.

West Brom (4-2-3-1): Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Yacob (Rosenberg 76); Odemwingie, Morrison, Fortune (Brunt 46); Long (Lukaku 46).
Subs: Myhill (gk), Dorrans, Gera, Dawson.

Sent off: Odemwingie.

Referee: Roger East (Wiltshire).

Source Jonathan Liew at Daily Telegraph
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